On a Saturday morning last year I received 3 crisis calls from 3 close friends, all within a 3-hour period. Each of my friends was independently shocked to receive dreadful news about a loved one. The first message was a husband requesting prayer for his family as they just received information that his wife’s sister was killed in a murder-suicide assault. Her estranged husband shot his wife and then himself in front of their two young children. Shortly thereafter, I got the call from a co-worker regarding her brother being run over earlier in the morning in a hit-and-run incident. My heart was overwhelmed with the suddenness of these two horrendous situations. And then within minutes, I received a text requesting prayer support as a family friend just received the news that her mother was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer that had already spread to the liver. In 3 hours, 3 calls and 3 heartbreaks: 3 lives that were forever altered. It is bewildering that these 3 families woke up that sunny San Diego morning with expectations, most assuredly, much different than what came crashing into their worlds.
Studies reveal that close to eighty-three percent of the US population will be exposed to a traumatic event during their lifetime. In 2012, there were three hundred and fifty-seven naturally triggered disasters registered. Research estimates that there are approximately two hundred and sixty-eight million victims affected by natural disasters each year. That is a quarter of a billion people every year that are impacted by a significant crisis. As a consequence of sin entering into the world, pain and death have constantly marched around the globe at an appalling frequency. Though these statistics are distasteful and cruel, it is our faith in God that should ideally lift us above and through the hardships of this world. Biblically, we may know this fact with our mind, but practically our heart can be challenged at times to live out this level of faith. And even the most faithful of believers sometimes stumble in the throes of terrible loss. Travail tests our pride and causes us to face the ultimate of quandaries. Within this context that I have learned that my life is not about me; in fact, it’s not my life.
The Apostle Peter challenged the early church during an era of extreme suffering and persecution to hold fast to their faith and integrity, knowing that all wrongs will one day be made right:
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
With assurance of this future reality, we are encouraged to keep our eyes on the eternal perspective and to live holy and Godly lives. In fact, Peter acknowledged that we shouldn’t be surprised by some of our sufferings, as it is part of the believer’s calling to share in Christ’s suffering:
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”
It is this gaze into eternity that transforms jaded existence into joyful significance and converts hurt into a very real hope. I believe that David was clinging to this outlook when he wrote, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”
Over a thousand years later, Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha, absorbed this focus of desire as she sat at Jesus’ feet, losing herself in His words. Though her sister was busy serving, Mary chose that better perspective. It is this intimacy with our Savior that dissolves the anguish of the past and the anxiety of the present, cultivating the assurance of a blessed future. And it is this solace that recalibrates present moments, saturating them with true inner peace. We are promised that in every crisis, Christ is ever present. The writer of Hebrews was most likely reflecting back upon the promises of God given through Moses during the last few days of Moses’ life when the truth was proclaimed, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”We are to be reminded that setbacks are not only a time for instruction but also for reconstruction. And when we rest on this foundation, we are bathed in the peace that transcends logic and reason. To prepare for any of life’s challenges we would be wise to slow down, savor this present moment, and to grow deep in one’s intimacy with Jesus Christ. Need help in your preparations? Check out this link: sdrock.com/knowgod.
*Click HERE to watch Pastor Mickey's most recent message to Rock Church on preparation.
 Breslau, N. (2009). The epidemiology of trauma, PTSD, and other posttrauma disorders. Trauma, Violence and Abuse: A Review Journal, 10(3), 198-210.
 Guha-Sapir, D., Hoyois, P., Below, R. (2013). Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2012: The Numbers and Trends. Brussels, Belgium: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, p.1.
 2 Peter 3:10-13 (NKJV).
 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NKJV).
 Psalm 27:4
 Luke 10:38-42.
 Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV). See also Deuteronomy 31:6, 8.